Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Grand Chess Master

My daughter is learning to play chess. My husband has been working on teaching her for about two years now. She is seven. Her school offers a chess club for the second graders. She goes to the local magnet school where learning is accellerated and grades are K-2. So she is the big cheese in her school right now. Next year she starts at the bottom, at the next magnet school which is 3-5. After that, they mainstream them back into the middle school that they are zoned for, but they will go to a section of the school for AP type learning. Anyway. Chess. For two years now.

I’ve played chess maybe twice. In my entire life. Literally. My history with games with squares on them is not very good. I don’t think well several moves ahead and I just don’t see things. Of course, some of this could be because I’ve never practiced them, from sheer dislike. I do not enjoy games with squares on them.

Of course, my daughter has been after me to play a game of chess with her. I have been making excuses because I really don’t enjoy chess, I really don’t understand it, I don’t know the moves, and the prospect of having my ass kicked by a seven year old is really depressing. So far, fortunately, my husband and daughter are accepting my excuses. And I’m really glad, because I wouldn’t want to teach her anything wrong. And if she had a question, I wouldn’t be able to answer it.

My husband is apparently a pretty good chess player. I wouldn’t know because first, I’ve never played with him, and second, I’m sure he’d be able to kick my butt handily and I still wouldn’t recognize exactly how good he was or wasn’t. Even though I don’t do chess, I’m glad my daughter is learning. Her school seems to believe that learning chess is good for children’s development for a number of reasons: it helps them to concentrate, visualize, see several moves ahead, and helps with visual-spatial orientation. I think it’s just plain cool that my kid can play chess. Right now she’s learning something called castling which all sounds very complex.

My husband bought a chess set called “No Stress Chess,” which is a pretty cool idea. Before you move, you draw a card and the card tells you which piece to move and how it moves. So you only have a choice of one type of piece to move. As you get better, you can draw a collection of cards and choose which move you want to make from those choices. He also got a book called, “Chess Is Child’s Play,” which is apparently geared toward teaching children how to play chess, and also teaching adults who are trying to teach their children how to teach them. He has recommended them to her school system by emailing them to her enrichment teacher. I guess she appreciated the recommendations. She has been sending emails out about the chess club, which they are about to start for the year. I can only assume my daughter will be in it.

So several years from now, when you see my daughter in the Grand Chess Master competition, or whatever the heck you call it, you will know from whence humble beginnings she comes. I’m sure she’ll be good at it. She’s already beating her babysitters. She’s really good at anything she puts her mind to.


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2 thoughts on “Grand Chess Master

  1. I have a little chess master also–but in third grade:) He masters moves I can’t fathom, particularly since I don’t know chess! But, I love to see him get as excited about chess as some kids do about the Super Bowl.

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